Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Very good news

Even as difficult as it seems my life is right now, there is still very, very good news to be told about my son.

When his school let out at the beginning of June, I started him on the Feingold diet and some supplements as a natural way to treat his ADHD.  His symptoms included hyperactivity, behavior problems, and learning difficulties, particularly with his handwriting, and he had been treated with Ritalin while at school.  It did help him to calm down and concentrate much better than he could without it, and it made it possible for him to accomplish school work that he could not complete otherwise.  But the side effects of the Ritalin included restlessness and difficulty sleeping, loss of appetite, lethargy, and when he was coming down off the drug at the end of the school day, severe irritability and sometimes tantrums.  I had no choice but to medicate him at school because he could not work without the drug, but I was desperately hoping that during the summer, I would find some ways to manage his symptoms without the use of medication.

Since starting the Feingold diet, I have seen such a dramatic change in my son that I can hardly put words to it.  He is still an active boy, for certain, and he still gets into fights with his sister, but it is at the level of what I would consider normal sibling rivalry for two kids who are home together all summer long.  Gone are the failing limbs, constant jumping and throwing his body around, nonstop chattering, and the voluminous yelling.  Those things are replaced with a boy who is, at times, so quiet that I'll walk into the room and not even know he's in there.  I'll go walking through the house to look for him because I can't find him, and he'll be sitting quietly on his bed or on the sofa, reading a book.  Reading a book!!!!  He reads!  Or at other times, he will be in the same room with his sister, and they'll both be playing quietly and not disturbing each other.  That almost never happened before.  I am also seeing a noticeable reduction in his asthma and allergy symptoms, to the point where he was coughing and wheezing every night in bed and now does so rarely, if ever.  I hope this will become a permanent change for him.

Another area where I am seeing improvement is in his handwriting.  It has always been atrocious, but at least while on Ritalin, he developed some ability to write.  Before that he could not so much as pen his name.  But even so, when he did write, there were no spaces between words, the letters were oversized and scrawling, many of them were backwards, and it was for the most part illegible.  Like this:

(Translation:  This is my mom.  Her name is Anne Marie.  She has brown colored eyes.  She has brown colored hair.  I like it when she takes me to the park.)

Today, I had him sit down and write the titles of the books we have read for the summer reading program.  I noticed right away after looking at his writing that it was neater and there was very little letter reversal.  He has started writing the letter C and the letter S correctly, for starters.  It was a big deal to me to see him write his name for the first time without a backwards S.  He has always, always written it with a backwards S, until shortly after we started Feingold.

This is what his writing looked like today.  It still leaves a lot to be desired, of course, but the spacing and the overall tidiness of it looks improved to me.  Mostly, it's legible!

Here's a close up for a better look.  The first three lines were written a few weeks ago, when he had just started on Feingold.  It's hard to see because of the library stamp on it but it says "Food Chain Frenzy, Magic School Bus."  The other three titles were written today and I don't think they need translation!  

Okay, maybe only a mother would be proud of that...but dangit, I'm proud of that!

I really hope that the longer he stays on Feingold, the more we will see an improvement.  I still don't know if he'll be able to function well enough in school this fall without any medication, but hopefully, if he does need some, it can be at a lower dose.  And I have to say, I don't want to turn into a Feingold preacher girl, but I am so excited about what this has done for my son that it's become hard for me not to cringe when I see other kids eating tons of artificial colors and flavors.  I'm becoming a bit of a food snob.  Maybe that's a side effect of parenting on Feingold.


used2chaos said...

This makes me misty-eyed with happiness for you and Samuel! What wonderful progress he has made.

You are a fantastic mom, babe. Just wonderful. I hope you know that.

Kim V. said...

This is a wonderful development, AM. I am really happy that this diet is working for your boy.

ErikaRobin said...

OMG, YAY! I can see so much improvement. Go, Samuel! This is exciting to see. :)